THE Toledo City Government has been given the green light by Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to proceed with its reclamation project in Sitio Baybay, Barangay Poblacion.
Public Information Officer Roseller Layan said the 12-hectare project will house malls, a water treatment facility and other commercial spaces.
The port located near it will remain and will undergo improvement, he said.
The project aims to generate jobs and income for city residents, he said.
The administration of Mayor Marjorie Perales aims to make the city an “industrialized hub” in the midwest of Cebu Province.
“Mahug sya’g ala SRP (It will be like the South Road Properties) in the midwest,” Layan told SunStar Cebu.
With the development, Layan said tourism promotion will only be secondary.
The City aims to start the development before the year ends or in the early months of 2021.
Layan said the project is locally funded, but he was not able to disclose the amount appropriated for it.
Cimatu met with Perales and other city officials on Friday, Aug. 21, 2020, to discuss the project and check its documents.
According to the official Facebook page of the Toledo City Public Information Office, the secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) personally visited the project site.
Layan said the project was conceptualized during the time of former mayor John Henry “Sonny” Osmeña. However, his suspension and the opposition of some environmental groups stalled the project.
Layan said environmental groups said the area to be reclaimed is part of the Tañon Strait, which is a protected seascape area.
Proclamation 1234 issued in 1998 declared the Tañon Strait, which is situated between the islands of Cebu and Negros, a protected area pursuant to Republic Act 7586, or the National Integrated Protection Areas System Act of 1992.
During the time of Osmeña, he directed divers to check under the water and take photos.
“What the former senator did was to order divers to conduct a survey to show there was nothing to protect under the water,” Layan said in Cebuano.
During the meeting, Cimatu gave Perales the go signal for the reclamation project.
SunStar Cebu sought the comment of local DENR officials, but to no avail. (JJL)